They who serve - remembering the armed forces

THE Pentagon recently issued its manpower report, showing that the military continues to meet or exceed recruitment targets for the four services. That's good news for the folks who oversee the defense ramparts. It's also a useful reminder at this time of the year not to forget the millions of Americans who serve their country - many of them in remote or often inhospitable regions and removed from their immediate families and friends. According to the Pentagon, some 93 percent of the new recruits during 1987 had high school diplomas. That's a higher percentage than for all Americans of the same age group. And it is noteworthy that the military continues to attract so many young people. Recruitment targets have been met even though the Pentagon has not escaped some tarnishing lately, what with reports of excessive cost overruns, huge budget outlays, plus mixed feelings on the part of the public about the Grenada invasion, the US occupation of Lebanon, and the bombing of Libya.

What prompts a young man or woman - and there are more and more of the latter - to join the military? Probably much as in the past: love of country, adventure, a job during a period of economic uncertainty. Whatever the reasons, the new recruits are there on the line, serving their country, as millions of other Americans have done before them.

We would look forward to the day when disputes can be settled by reason and there need be no standing armies. Moreover, the Pentagon is expected to face tough questioning during the upcoming 1988 presidential election campaign: Exactly how much should be going to defense at a time of budget constraint and against the backdrop of arms negotiations? Still, for the moment, it is fitting to remember the millions of servicemen and servicewomen at their posts - wherever they are serving.

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